And Then There Were 68: March Madness Ready To Tip Off

The college basketball season is winding down as spring approaches. This can mean only one thing for avid sports fans across the country: March Madness is upon us.

March Madness is the nickname for the postseason tournament consisting of the country’s top 68 teams, who will play to be crowned national champion. Every year the tournament fails to disappoint, and this year is shaping up to be one of the most exciting contests yet.

When the tournament starts, all 68 teams will be broken up into four different brackets: East, West, South and Midwest. There, the teams will be divided by their ranking, with the highest seeded team playing the lowest rated team and so on. What makes this year’s tournament that much more interesting is that analysts still cannot figure out who the four No. 1 teams will be. No team has solidified its place as one of the nation’s best.

Seven different teams have held the top spot so far, and countless different teams are fighting for a place in the top four. As of this week, Gonzaga is the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time in the school’s history. Following Gonzaga is Duke, Indiana and Louisville as the tournament’s projected top seeds. However, the next four teams are right behind these four, and a poor performance by any of these predicted No. 1s will mean either Georgetown, Michigan, Kansas or Michigan State will steal that coveted premium position.

While these schools are sitting on a sure berth into the playoffs, there are dozens of teams vying to sneak in and shock everyone. Some smaller schools-such as Harvard and Liberty, a team who has more losses than wins-have clinched a spot by winning their conferences. As these spots continue to be taken, other teams are scrambling.

As of this week, the last four teams who will make it into the NCAA tournament are, according to ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi, Temple, Virginia, Boise State and Tennessee. The first four teams he lists to narrowly miss playing for the trophy are Ole Miss, Alabama, Southern Miss and Baylor.

Kentucky is another team that is projected to not make the cut. This may not seem like a big deal except for one small detail: They won the national championship last season. Kentucky was the best team in the nation last year by a considerable margin, but now is not even in the top 50. Not even top 60. That is how volatile this year has been.

March is here, and it is just about time for the madness to begin: Days filled with upsets and heartbreaks, the court becoming a battleground that lasts until the sound of the final buzzer. If sports fans have learned anything from previous years, anything is possible when the NCAA tournament begins.

Judgment day for the remaining at large teams, known as Selection Sunday, will take place this Sunday. Official tournament play will begin two days later, on Tuesday, March 19.